Joel E. Rubin, Ph.D

Joel_RubinHastings-on-Hudson, New York

Inducted as a Fellow: 1977

Your earliest memories of the Institute?

Sometime in late 1959 Tom DeGaetani and I met for coffee at the suggestion of designer David Hays.  That was the beginning of a series of meetings which gradually involved additional "founders" and resulted in the formation of USITT at a first conference in February of 1961..

Favorite USITT memory?

Two events stand out from the earliest years of USITT.  The dinner to honor the retirement of Prof. Stanley McCandless (in collaboration with the Illuminating Engineering Society) at the 2nd conference, was the occasion of USITT's first important "award".  The opening week of the New York State Theatre at Lincoln Center (1964) where USITT was given the hall on the Sunday night and attracted an audience of over 2,000 to hear the architects, designers and consultants talk about their role in the design of the facility.  Architect Philip Johnson (aware of the press that the theatres "acoustics" was receiving) stepped out in front of the podium and (sans microphone) asked of the audience in a normal voice "can you hear me?" which received a standing ovation on the spot.

Subsequently the events that are highlight memories are the Josef Svoboda Scenography Master Classes in the United States;  the U.S. Embassy in Prague hosting the official delegates from all countries to a celebration of the U.S. Gold Triga Winner at PQ87;  many trips to "iron curtain" countries as United States Delegate to various international meetings.

Short list of career highlights:

At Kliegl Bros. Lighting:  

  • designing the architectural lighting for the lobbies and audience chamber of the Metropolitan Opera House at LIncoln Center;  
  • designing the production lighting system for the New York State Theatre;  
  • providing the production lighting systems for the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Los Angeles Music Center, and the Juilliard School at Lincoln Center to the designs of Jean Rosenthal;  
  • working with George C. Izenour on the production lighting systems for the Sala des Conciertos in Caracas;  
  • working with Abe Feder on the floodlighting of the RCA (now GE) building at Rockefeller Plaza in New York City;   

At Artec Consultants: 

  • working internationally on more than a dozen projects in Finland, Switzerland, England, France,  Russia, Italy,  Australia, as well as numerous projects in the United States.

At Joel E. Rubin & Associates:

  • providing consulting services in theatre planning, theatre equipment planning and architectural lighting

Short list of your involvement in the Institute:

  • Co-Founder, 1961
  • Technical Secretary, 1961-1963
  • Second President, 1963-1965
  • Board of Directors, 1965- until ?
  • Founding Chair, International Liaison Committee, 1965- until ?
  • U.S. Delegate to Founding of OISTAT (with Gary Gaiser), 1968  
  • Second President of OISTAT, 1971-1979
  • Awards Committee
  • Finance Committee   
  • Co-Chair (with Patricia MacKay) of USITT Exhibit to PQ87
  • Co-Chair (with Eric Fielding) of USITT Exhibit to PQ1991
  • Delivered first USITT Fellows Address 1982
  • Delivered subsequent Fellows addresses at 40th  (2001) and 50th (2010) USITT Conferences.  Fellow
  • Lifetime Member
  • Recipient, 1990 USITT Award (for PQ87 Steering Committee)
  • Recipient, Founder's Award 1972 and 1976 (award later re-named in my honor)
  • 50th Anniversary Citation 2010.

If you were to make a short list of the memorable USITT characters that have made a difference to you, who would they be?

Harold Burris-Meyer, Thomas DeGaetani, C. Ray Smith, Gary Gaiser, Ben Schlanger, Jo Mielziner,  Edward F. Kook, Russell Johnson, Will Bellman, Sam Scripps, Dick Devin, Patricia MacKay, Arnold Aronson, Eric Fielding, Sarah Nash Gates, Christine Kaiser, Richard PIlbrow, Bob Scales Steve Terry, Sonny Sonnenfeld, Richard Stephens, Donald H. Swinney, Ned Bowman, Richard D. Thompson, and, Lael Cortesi Armstrong-- among others.

Anything you want to say about being a Fellow?

It is a grand feeling because the company is so good!

Anything you'd like to add about what the USITT means to you personally?

The opportunity to join with other professionals in advancement of the theatre arts makes one feel especially humble with the great body of knowledge that is available in the membership.  That, plus the opportunity to make a small dent in the Iron Curtain through USITT's work in OISTAT during the Cold War. 


  • Theatrical Lighting Practice, with Leland H. Watson
  • The Technical Development of Stage Lighting Apparatus in the United States, 1900-1950
  • Numerous articles and papers in national and international journals.

List of books that you recommend about the field:

Robert Edmond Jones’ The Dramatic Imagination


I have had some success as mentor in the past and would be pleased to be of continuing service


Read Sightlines: Founder Reflects on USITT